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All Of Us Strangers – Film Review

TALA LADKI gets drawn into a compelling story of trauma, loss, and queer love.

When All Of Us Strangers first opened and I saw the slow progressions in each scene, I thought it was going to bore me. But I was soon captivated. Andrew Scott’s acting, the intricate plot and the movie score are sure to leave you in a trance.

Following the story of Adam (Andrew Scott), a screenwriter struggling with writing a script based on his past, the film takes us on an emotional journey filled with pain, love, and laughter. The opening scenes are of Adam, visibly depressed and struggling to write. After the fire alarm goes off in the near-abandoned building complex where he lives, he has an encounter with a drunk neighbour. He’s then seen reminiscing on his childhood and decides to visit his childhood home, reconnecting with his parents, who seem to have no idea about his current life.

Ghostly parents

Up until now, everything has seemed quite normal. Right? Right. Except that Adam starts a relationship with that neighbour, Harry (Paul Mescal), and a little later into the movie, tells Harry that his parents died when he was around twelve. So basically, Adam has been seeing the ghost of his parents at his childhood home. He's drawn to going back to his childhood home time after time in order to be at peace with who he is. That proves to be a challenge when he comes out to his late parents, who don’t take it too well. A few more visits bring the three closer, but he soon realizes he cannot rewrite history nor change the events that took their lives.  

Intertwined timelines

In parallel, Adam and Harry’s relationship is flourishing. A few moments make us question whether Harry really exists, but the connection and intimacy between the two feels beyond real. They spend all their time together, but we’re only ever introduced to Adam’s past and his perspective. We don’t know much about Harry. Adam asks Harry to come with him to visit the childhood home and this whole encounter is mingled with another event where Adam and Harry had taken drugs at a club. The timelines intertwine, Adam waking up startled, unsure what’s happened. But his parents like Harry, and that’s what matters. They had a nice time. Back in his London apartment with Harry, he wakes up startled, again, with Harry comforting him. It isn’t until later that we know what had really happened that night.

A rollercoaster of emotions

By the end of the movie, we discover Harry’s reality – [no spoilers] – and all has not been what it seemed. The rollercoaster of emotions this movie takes us on from beginning to end is very intricate, especially as Adam dives into his insecurities as a gay man. His character had been subject to bullying from an early age, even from his parents, who asked him to act a certain way because they were afraid he’d grow up to be gay. By revisiting his past, coming out to his parents and knowing that they accept him, Adam finds peace. He's also able to move on from their traumatic death. As for Harry, it’s clear that the plot with him was a manifestation of Adam’s desires, who had mentioned earlier that he had not had relationships and never known what loving someone felt like.

Stunning Scott shots

An adaptation of Taichi Yamada’s novel, Strangers, Andrew Haig allowed us to experience Adam’s loss and feel his loneliness through stunning shots that reflect those emotions. Scott’s sometimes emotionless face bore more emotions than the average heart can handle. While the ending felt complex, I think the intention was to keep us wondering about what really happened to Adam after he’d come to peace with his past and himself.

All in all, it’s definitely worth a watch. 

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